Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Art of Vietnamese Haggling

Been hanging out with the folks a lot lately in Little Saigon, it's holiday season afterall. Anyhow, my very long gold necklace chain broke last year and I've been too lazy to get a new one. I was inspired last night about making one of the sea shells I found on the beach in Cabo earlier this year into a pendant. But first, I had to get a new chain. So we had a family outing to Phước Lộc Thọ, known in English as Asian Garden Mall.

When buying gold, I always bring my mom, she is an expert haggler, it's a sport to her and she always win. I'm just her apprentice. For the Vietnamese, 18k is supreme, 14k is too meager, and 22k is too soft (totally acceptable but a bit too yellow gold for my taste). This is because our history has been one of unstable currency and gold is seen more valuable (which it is). My mom has always told me and sister to invest in gold cuz' "you can always sell it when you need money." Yep, that's the rufugee mentality. But it makes such sense right?

So here are some rules you should adhere to if you're ever in the mood to buy some jewelry at a Vietnamese mall:

1. know what you want
2. find it
3. compare it - it's always good to know the proprietor; at this mall, my parents know between 4-5 which makes it quite easy for us to get a realistic initial quote.
4. discuss, negotiate, chit chat (be friendly) - this is the truly fun part of this experience. I love it. I'm getting to be really good at it.
5. walk away - unless you know that the price is really reasonable, walk away and compare again. I love walking away; like I'm all snotty and bitchy; I make this great face.
6. decide - go back to the lowest price and make a last ditch effort to bargain some more, you can always go down just a little more but you gotta know when to stop. There's a fine line; you don't want to insult the proprietor.
7. commit - once you agree on the price, there is no going back, you would be losing face if you back out now. It's like the item is yours once you commit so be decisive and confident of your decision.
8. buy it - it's yours and you're better for it!

This is the third place I went to but it was more than the second place. Nice selection though.

Back to the second place where I
finally committed as it was the best price. I got him to go down just a little bit more which felt good; like I accomplished something major. That's my gold on the scale!

This is the repair man who made my sea shells into pendants with very nice gold hardware. He works hard.

After shopping, we were hungry and decided to go get some balut downstairs. Just kidding, I'm adventurous but not quite enough, too scary for me. We opted for sugarcane juice instead.